Posted in writers

“C” is for cancer

Yes, I have the “C” word. Coming to grips with it is challenging. When my sister-in-law suggested that I write a book about my experiences, I blew it off. Many books have been written about people’s journey’s through cancer. They surely didn’t need another one. So she suggested a journal. “Maybe it would help others,” she said. I believe she meant maybe it would help me. But she is also a cancer survivor. Perhaps she was asking me to be a voice she could not be. I am a writer. This is what I do. So why not a blog?

As I venture on this trip I don’t want to take, I will try to share with you what I am going through. It will be less about what is happening physically and more about what is happening emotionally. This is beyond hard. Harder than anything I ever remember going through before. And I have been through many rough times in my seventy-three years. If you choose to follow along, perhaps you are also facing the big “C,” or you have a friend or family member that is. Perhaps you will follow because it is something different from cancer. Maybe it is another physical ailment, or maybe a mental one. At any rate, if you find it helpful or relatable, I thank you for choosing to take this journey with me, walking with me, but even if you cannot walk it for me.

Before I get into the “C” chapter of my life, I must start with a big, heartfelt “A.” The A is for APOLOGY. Those of you who follow my blog will know that this blog is supposed to be about writing and promoting other authors. I have a long list of authors that I promised to post their interviews and the latest book they want to let the world know about. I have failed miserably with this ever since “C” has reared his ugly head. So I apologize to my author friends. You are not going to see your interview or your books promoted here for a long time. This is the only thing I can do right now. My mind is all consumed with “C.” Hopefully, at the end of this journey, I will be back to myself and be able to fulfill my promise to you and continue with the author interviews and book promotions. I sincerely wish you all the success in the world with your books. Author to author, I know that journey is another one altogether.

I will start my next post by catching you up on how I first found out about “C” and how I emotionally handled it. It will require a little medical information, but I hope not to bog it down with too much of that. Cancer is the antagonist in this story, and I don’t want to give him too much voice. This is my battle and I pray I come out the victor.

Posted in writers

The Inn in Rhode Island by Judy Prescott Marshall

Judy Prescott Marshall

A powerful message about knowing, trusting, and believing in yourself.

At The Inn in Rhode Island, afternoons are reserved for soothing cups of tea while relaxing on one of the porch rockers. You’re welcome to take an easy stroll among the many aesthetic gardens. If reading is your pleasure and the owner sure hopes it is, the library offers an array of books, a comfortable sofa and two wingback chairs on each side of the fireplace. From garden tours in the spring to author events in the fall, you’ll be glad you stayed at the inn, especially for dinner. Chef Michael is passionate about food.

During the golden hour, Julie and Dan Holliday will renew their vows. The wedding will take place at The Inn in Rhode Island on what promises to be a magical evening surrounded by close friends, colleagues, gorgeous flowers, delicious food and a wedding cake baked by the bride’s best friend.

Judy Prescott Marshall is a multi-award-winning writer. Sher earned her certificate Write Your First Novel from Michigan State University. She writes women’s contemporary fiction.

Give a big welcome to Judy Prescott Marshall. Tell us, Judy, what was your inspiration for this book?

  • Real women facing life’s many challenges.

That is great. Most women could identify with that. If your book was sitting on a shelf in a brick and mortar bookstore like Barnes & Noble, where would we find it?

  • Women’s contemporary fiction

Is this your first book or do you have other books? Are they in the same genre?

  • Both books are in the same genre. STILL CRAZY released March 2022.

Do you have a brand. For example, my brand is Mother-Daughter Women’s Fiction.

  • Mine are also Women’s Fiction, but I’d call my brand “Later-in-Life Fiction”

Interesting. I like that everyone is not writing about the 20/30 something crowd. How long have you been writing?

  • In 2019 I wrote a little book on inspiration. 2020 I released my debut novel.

I find it so interesting how we all ended up writing from such different starts. Your cover is lovely. Did you design it yourself or have a cover designer?

  • I design my own book covers and have a professional put it all together for me.

What avenue did you go to get published? Traditional, hybrid, Indie or a small independent press?

  • I am Self published and a proud Indie Author!!

What do you like BEST about writing or being an author?

* All of it! Seriously, I enjoy the creating, writing, advertising, marketing and getting to know other writers.

I wish I could say the same. I hate the marketing. Is there anything then you would say would fall in the “least” category?

  • Not having enough time in the day to do all that needs to be done.

We all need more than 24 hour days, don’t we. How do you market your books?

  • Advertising on Facebook. Sharing the book on all of my social media, in my newsletter, blog, with my book clubs and my street team.

If you were to give advice to a new author looking to get published; what would you say ?

  • Create your platform FIRST!

Well, that could be another whole blog post. Platforms are very confusing to new authors.

Below is a list of where you can purchase Judy’s books.

Thank you Judy, for being on Writing Under Fire.


Other Buy Links: i.e Amazon Author Page, Goodreads, etc. Judy Prescott Marshall

Posted in writers

World Sea Turtle Day

June 16, 2022..Did you know that June 16th is World Sea Turtle Day? Take this day to remember you little (and big) shelled friends. Might be a good day to read March of the Sea Turtles to your little ones too.


Just FYI: the Spanish version, La Marcha de las Tortugas Marinas, will be out in the next few month. Watch on Amazon for it. English version available on Hard Cover or Paperback now. http://www.joannetailele.com

Posted in writers

QUANTUM by T. Milton Mayer

The United States faces a catastrophe far worse than the Wuhan pandemic of 2020. Like before, the threat originates in China, but this time it’s not just another virus. It is a powerful device that is already embedded in cities throughout the civilized world. When activated, billions could die.

Jacob Savich is the only man capable of stopping whatever is planned. Though plagued by his own personal demons, he is commissioned by the President to assemble a clandestine team of warriors with the necessary backbone and moral flexibility to protect the country. Until now, they have been successful, but this new mission poses the most dangerous challenge Savich has ever faced. He must identify the nature of the attack, when it will occur, and who is responsible. His relentless pursuit of each clue takes him a step closer to stopping the elusive mastermind behind the plot, but it also leads him toward his own death. Despite the danger, Savich must hurry. Time is running out. The day of YAOGUAI is near. Modern civilization is about to end.

T. Milton Mayer is a former Major in the United States Air Force and a retired Head & Neck Surgeon. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He and his wife divide their time between the Greater Cincinnati area and Naples, Florida. His previous books: Scorpion Intrusion and The Immigrant are available through  Amazon.

Tom Mayer, writing as T. Milton Mayer is one of my favorite authors of suspense and thriller. Welcome Tom. Let’s talk a little bit about how you started writing and why.

Tom: At age sixty, my career as a surgeon ended abruptly after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The early retirement was unexpected and difficult. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I spent every day at home. After rearranging her kitchen for the third time in six months, she told me I needed a hobby. I had always been an avid reader so I decided to try my hand at writing fiction.

It was far more difficult than I had imagined. My first effort was a rambling one hundred fifty thousand story about a family in the impoverished coal country in southeast Kentucky. After reading the manuscript, I put it on a shelf where it remains till this day. It was horrible. Realizing I needed to learn more. I purchased a number of books on writing. I discovered there were multiple rules that must be followed when writing any story: maintaining a consistent point of view, no head hopping, maintaining proper tense, minimizing ly words, avoiding passive verbs, etc, etc.

Five years ago, I finished Scorpion Intrusion, a 93,000 word thriller. I published it through Create Space.  The book had its flaws but was well received. Subsequently, an acquaintance asked me to write his life story. After that, I wrote Quantum, a sequel to my first novel. Realizing I needed help, I sought the advice of a book coach and selected Joanne Tailele. Her advice and guidance have been invaluable. Quantum was published by Simon Publications and has had excellent reception. Joanne is helping me put the finishing touches on my third novel, The Thirteen which I expect to be ready by July.

JT: Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Tom: Most of my stories are inspired by current events in the news. Others stem from people I have known or things I have witnessed personally. My next novel resulted from a walk I took in a park near my Florida home. It was a swampy area with elevated asphalt paths for walkers and cyclists. One morning I noticed an abandoned bicycle half submerged in the water and wondered how it got there. That led to an entire story that evolved into a one hundred-thousand word thriller. If I had a brand, it would be fiction thrillers. They all also have a touch of political influence.

JT: Let’s talk about publishing. Today there are so many choices; self-publishing, small independent presses, hybrid and traditional publishers. Why did you choose Simon Publishing LLC?

Tom: I tried traditional publishing but found the process to be tedious and the chances of rejection high. If I were younger, I might continue to try that avenue, but the submission of multiple query letters was too painful and time consuming. I discovered that using Simon Publications, I eliminated most of the painful drudgery associated with traditional publishers. A small independent press offered me excellent service and provided a finished product I could be proud of.

JT: Marketing is probably the biggest problem for most authors. Whether you go the traditional route, self-publish, or somewhere in between, it is primarily the author’s responsibility to market their own books. What do you do?

Tom: Getting the word out is of course one of the most difficult aspects of writing. I have utilized the social media. I also enroll in as many book fairs as possible. I met with several books stores to convince them to give me shelf space. I considered radio commercials and billboards but decided they wouldn’t be very cost effective. Didn’t think I could sell enough books to offset the expense.

JT: What do you like best about being a writer?

Tom: I get to lose myself in my characters and live somewhat vicariously through them. I can guide the story in any direction I want. It also gives me the chance to express my personal thoughts about various issues. I enjoy the entire creative process and often don’t know what will happen until I type it. The story takes on a life of its own.

JT: On the flip side, what is your least favorite part?

Tom: Rewrites. I tend to do a half dozen of these, even when the project is supposedly finished—much to the chagrin of the publisher.

JT: In response to the above question, one thing you do that I think is very helpful is to print out the entire manuscript after you THINK it is done. You always find things you want to change, whether it is in a particular scene or just the structure of a sentence. Being detailed oriented is both your asset and your curse.

Tom: Decide what your goals are.  Keep writing and experimenting with different styles and points of view. Once you have perfected your skills, you can try the traditional publishing route, but it’s a long and tedious process. Be prepared for rejections. It’s happened to some of the best. Just remember, even if your manuscript is accepted by a publisher or agent, it will probably take at least several years before it makes its way into print. Personally, I prefer the small independent press option.

JT: Thank you Tom. Always a pleasure. Where can readers buy your books?

website: tmayerbooks.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/T-Milton-Mayer/e/B017DQW4XO?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1654358433&sr=1-1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58059635-quantum?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=844lU65AeE&rank=1

Posted in writers

March of the Sea Turtles

Meet Carly and Ranger Todd. They will take you on amazing adventures in southwest Florida. You’ll learn about the wildlife and how humans can coexist with the species that have been here long before us.

If you would like to read this book to your child’s preschool, I know they would love it. Here is just a few of the classes that love March of the Sea Turtles.

A third grade class in Canfield, Ohio wrote me back with what they liked about March of the Sea Turtles. This is just a few. Thank you class.

You can buy March of the Sea Turtles on my website joannetailele.com

On Amazon https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AJoanne+Simon+Tailele&s=relevancerank&text=Joanne+Simon+Tailele&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1

On Barnes&Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/march-of-the-sea-turtles-joanne-simon-tailele/1141338053?ean=9781736188187

Posted in writers

Beyond Beauport

Shannon Clarke raised a family and worked waterfront jobs in America’s oldest seaport. Her childhood dream to become a sea captain is revived when her long-lost seafaring uncle Patrick, visits with a salty tale of their maritime family ancestry of pirates and privateers. He shares recovered family letters and artifacts from the Golden Age of piracy. They take to the sea in Patrick’s brigantine to follow the siren song of their ancestors in quest of destiny, truth and treasure. The voyage is fraught with raw forces of nature, past traumas and present-day sea raiders as their talents and beliefs of family, identity and purpose are shaken to the core. 

James Masciarelli is a writer, coach, and serial entrepreneur. His leadership roles span social work, high-tech human resources, executive search, board governance, and angel investing. Known for thought leading articles in professional publications, his first book, PowerSkills is considered the seminal book on relationship and stakeholder management for personal, career and business success.

James and creative wife Judi enjoy endless summer in Naples, Florida and Gloucester, Ma. He now writes short stories and novels.

It is my pleasure to have Jim Masciarelli as my guest author today. Jim and I have been friends for quite a few years and it is wonderful to be able to tell others about his book, Beyond Beauport.

JT: Let’s start with inspiration. What was the trigger for you to write this book?

Jim:  It was my love of sea stories, maritime history, piracy, and the intriguing working women of fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

JT: If this book was sitting on a shelf in a traditional bookstore like Barnes & Noble. Where would we find it?

Jim:  The genre is clearly Adventure, so I would guess it would go there. If there was a place for sub-genres under that, maybe thriller, sea stories, or even women’s fiction since the main protagonist is a strong female in a mid-life quest.

JT: Yes, Shannon Clark is an interesting character. You have her so well defined. As a guy, did you find it hard to capture a female protagonist?

Jim: Great question. This began as a hypothesis for an adventure novel. I had consumed maritime history and pirate history books and learned about women navigators and yes, pirates. A female protagonist in an adventure novel out of her comfort zone on the high seas. Not a bodice ripper was my aim. I knew many of the working women of the Gloucester waterfront and how hearty, funny, tough, and family-oriented they were. Many knew hard times. I decided to interview as many as I could—twenty-six. Their stories, likes, dislikes, skills, work and family experiences blended into a female protagonist in mid-life. Empathy is the helpful and magical way to deep character development. I want to feel what my characters feel and to surprise myself.  

JT: Let’s talk about the cover for a minute. I love the fiery red hair against the backdrop of the sea with the waves crashing in white foam. Did you design your own book cover or have a cover designer? How much input do you have?

Jim: My wife is a former graphic designer and we developed several mock ups for our Publisher Koehler Books.

JT: Are you traditionally published, an Indie Author or use a small independent press?And why did you choose that route?

Jim: I used a small independent press. At the time, Koehler books offered a hybrid model with excellent support which can lead to their traditional publishing. Now I have the book under Nimbus Press with faster time to market.

JT: Do you have a brand? 

Jim: I’d call my brand Eclectic. I write satire, short stories, creative non-fiction and long fiction.

JT: Have you published other books?

Jim:  Yes, PowerSkills a recognized seminal book on relationship management for career and personal success with licensed courses for corporations and associations.  A precursor to today’s stakeholder relationship management thinking and platforms.

JT:  How long have you been writing Commercially/Academically or for Pleasure?

Jim: Since 1978, I wrote thought leading articles on leadership skills for professional publications.

JT: That is quite a leap from non-fiction, professional publications to fiction. Did you find that difficult? What were some of the challenges?

Jim: I have been fortunate in several careers. So going into uncharted territory excites me. I started with a course on screenplays, participated in critique groups. I have read over 36 books on writing fiction. Somewhat helpful and conflicting advice. I joined Grub Steet Boston, Sanibel Island Writers and Marco Island writers. Many workshops. I had to set writing goals because I do get lost in research.

JT: What do you like BEST about writing or being an author?

Jim:  The creative and editing process force a writer to scalpel no matter how hard to cut bloat. Learning something new every day and cataloging story ideas. I love researching topics, observe behavior, character, people and places with an eye for entertaining stories.  I like to share drafts with readers that will beat it up and provide useful feedback.

JT:  I love the research too. What do you like LEAST about writing or being an author?

Jim:  The need to have multiple platforms, apps, to produce and get your work out there.

JT:  One of the most challenging things for writers is getting your book out there. How do you market your books?

Jim:  I have a tip sheet that I can offer to bookstores or organization that explains my book, my marketing and my Meta Data to make it easier for them to get the information they need. I speak to Affinity groups, book clubs, amazon, and at times social media. I enjoy doing speaking engagements. I find that networking and participating in writing conferences is helpful. 

JT:  If you were to give advice to a new author looking to get published, what would you say?

Jim:  Perfect your work before gong to market and have low expectations of agents until you have successfully published in journals, articles, and self-publishing

JT: Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with Writing Under Fire. Readers, below is where you can purchase Jim’s book(s)

Website:  https://jamesmasciarelli.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39380405-beyond-beauport


Amazon Author Page: https://author.amazon.com/profile

Posted in writers

The Road to Me by Laura Drake

Jacqueline Oliver is an indie perfumer, trying to bury her ravaged childhood by shoveling ground under her own feet. Then she gets a call she dreads—the hippie grandmother she bitterly resents was apprehended when police busted a charlatan shaman’s sweat lodge. Others scattered, but Nellie was slowed by her walker, and the fact that she was wearing nothing but a few Mardi-Gras beads. Jacqueline is her only kin, so like it or not, she’s responsible.

Despite being late developing next year’s scent, she drops everything to travel to Arizona and pick up her free-range grandma. But the Universe conspires to set them on a Route 66 road trip together. What Jacqueline discovers out there could not only heal the scars of her childhood but open her to a brighter future.

Welcome, Laura Drake to Writing Under Fire. Laura is a close friend of mine and I cannot be more excited about this interview or Laura’s new book. So let’s get right to it with you telling the readers a little bit about you.

Laura: I am a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. I gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. I realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and am currently working on my accent. I’m a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

I am honored to be a New York and self-published published author of Women’s Fiction and Romance. My debut, The Sweet Spot, was a double-finalist, then won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. I am a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Writers in the Storm blog.

JT: What was the inspiration for this book?

Laura: My motorcycle travels. I’ve ridden the west over 200,000 miles on a motorcycle. I even rode part of the abandoned part of Route 66 on my bicycle! The history of that famous road always intrigued me, so when I thought of doing a ‘road trip’ story, I knew where it would be set!

JT: You are one exciting chick. Tell the readers about your brand and the other books you have written.

Laura: My brand is “Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change.” This is my second Contemporary Women’s Fiction, the first being Days Made of Glass. My other eleven novels are small town or cowboy romances. I love writing women’s fiction because they I dig deep into women’s stories, they always stem from deep in their past. I love digging into that.

JT: I loved Days Made of Glass. You are so good at getting into the soul of your characters. How long have you been writing?

Laura: (chuckle) Since about 1998, but it took me fifteen years to sell my first book.

JT: That may be, but I remember well when you won the Rita Award, the most prestigious award for new writers from the Romance Writers of America. We were all cheering.

Let’s talk a little about publishing. How are you published and have you always gone that route.

Laura: Currently I am with a small press. I love the flexibility of it and the amount of input I have. I have mostly been traditionally published with NY presses where you get little to no say on anything like cover design. I’ve also Indie published, so I guess you can say I’ve tried them all.

JT: What do you like best about being an author, and what do you like least?

Laura: When a reader writes me and tells me that my book touched them. That’s why I started writing to begin with! I really dislike the middle (aka: The Pit of Despair). I don’t plot. I know the beginning and the end, when I get to the middle, I get hopelessly lost! Luckily I have friends I can call, and they talk me off the ledge.

JT: I remember I time when you stayed with me and we brainstormed my plot out while walking around the island. Nothing like writers friends to get us through.

How do you market your books?

Laura: Every way I can think of! I’ve been down every publishing road there is, and trust me, no matter if it’s NY, Small Press or Indie, YOU are responsible for marketing! I love Facebook, and have a group where I am my dorky, snarky, genuine self, and I think that helps move the needle. It is: Laura Drake’s Peace, Love & Books.

JT: I love it and am a faithful follower. What kind of advise would you give to a new author?

Laura: It’s easy to get discouraged on this road, no matter what path you take. When that happens, remember why you started. Rediscover the joy of the writing itself. That always helps me!

Where can people find your books?

Thank you Laura. I just finished The Road to Me. I wanted to immediately, turn back to page one and read it again. Five Stars *****

Posted in authors, books, education, happiness, writers

What’s Stopping Me From Being Happy by Lisa Ellis

• Are you feeling like you are stuck on a treadmill and not

going anywhere?

• Are you tired of repeating your same old story?

• Needing clarity with relationships, finances or work?

• Lacking the confidence, you need to move forward?

• Are you feeling the need to let go of your old baggage?

• Is it time to find new direction in your life?

If you’ve answered “YES” to any one of these questions, this

book is for you!   this book has various tools to assist you in

clarity and releasing what is no longer serving you.

~Happy Reading~ ox

Let’s give a big welcome to Lisa Ellis, Owner Operator of Boost Your Health Wellness Center and author of What’s Stopping Me From Being Happy.

You come to us with quite the resume.

Certified Life Skills Coach ~ Reiki Master/Teacher ~ NGH Certified Hypnotherapist ~ Energy Facilitator~ Ancient Black Pearl Technique ~ CCMBA (Complete Cellular Mind Body Alignment) and so much more.

JT: I believe everyone at one point in their lives have needed so boosting; whether that is because they are going through a slump, juggling too many life issues at once or suffering from true depression. You are a life safer to so many people.

Let’s talk a little about what people can expect from reading your book. What do you feel is the number one thing people need to learn about themselves to find true happiness?

Lisa: Clarity is the key to unlocking potential and recognition of personal drivers. Understanding and leveraging personal drivers can have a substantial positive impact on motivation and collaborative energy in our lives. I’ve assisted individuals with self-esteem challenges, overcome employment barriers and demonstrate the value of building bridges toward a healthier community through life skills coaching. I apply interaction and thought-provoking messages to guide an individual toward self-discovery and self-awareness. Each step increases confidence through a personalized program enabling participants to explore new opportunities with clarity. I share positive information/tools on how to declutter your mind, body and soul

JT: How did you get started in this field of work?

Lisa: I first started doing women’s shelters in Canada as a volunteer as soon as I left my abusive marriage 1988.  They had helped me so much to get my strength and courage up at that time and I thought this is my time to now pay it forward as a volunteer- I use to help them with the children when they first arrived as they were so lost and scared as most of them ended in the shelters at night.  I was also on the crisis line. I would sit with the moms and listen to their stories, Afterall we all have one, some worsts then others. I then realized this was my calling to help women, as I too knew where they came from and how difficult it could be when you are alone or think you are. I am happy to say I have kept my calling to this day, by assisting others with workshops and now my new book. Most of my clients/students have been women, but I just got a contract to now help Men in AA (alcoholics anonymous). I will be doing retreats and workshops for them in Canada, starting this June. I truly hope when I return to Fort Myers at the end of November, I will also be doing the same here for women and men. I have spent more than two decades assisting not-for-profit organization and developing programs for personal and professional enhancement. 

JT: Fascinating. My daughter also teaches life lessons with her non-profit, Connection Coalition in Miami. Perhaps someday you can work together.

Let’s talk about your book. What did you like best about writing this book?

Lisa: Since the book is a culmination of many of my workshops, it was the perfect vehicle to provide these tools to more people in the comfort of their own home without the need to come to my own personal workshop/center. 

JT: What about the cover? How much input did you have in the design?

Lisa: I designed my own, I painted my first cover 3 years ago- it was exactly what I had seen on my cover. They then put it in more professional look. Here is a copy of my original design.

JT:  How do you market your book?

Lisa: People like you who are kind and take the time. I also offer my book at my workshops.   It can also be found on my website, wwww.boostyourhealth.ca on my Facebook, Newspapers, press release, also sold online at most major retailers. I must say “finding the time to market is always my challenge. I truly appreciate this.

JT: If you were to give advice to a new author, what would it be?

Lisa: Find the right publisher, do the research, don’t rush on your first offer.  A book with no regrets is how I feel mine is. I made changes right to last minute. I have no regrets.

JT: Thank you Lisa, for sharing your time with us. It has been a pleasure.

Readers: Below are all the links that you can find her book.



Posted in writers

The Lockhart Women by Mary Camarillo

JT:  It is my honor to have Mary Camarillo with us today on Writing Under Fire. She is a first-time novelist with this book published in June 2021. But she has had short stories and poems in publications such as 166 Palms, Sonora Review, TAB Journal and The Ear. So, Mary, tell us how you got started in writing.

Mary: Thank you for having me. It’s been a long path. In high school I wrote poems and edited the literary magazine. I considered a career in journalism but went to work for the postal service after high school instead. I eventually earned a degree in business administration, a CPA license, and several promotions. I finished my career writing and editing countless government audit reports. When I retired ten years ago, I started writing fiction. Fiction is more fun!

JT: I totally agree. I see you went with a hybrid feminist press, She Writes Press. Why did you decide to go with them to publish your first novel?

Mary: She Writes Press (SWP) gives the author more freedom in cover and page design. The author invests in the project and the royalties are larger than in traditional publishing. SWP offers traditional distribution, a big advantage over self-publishing.

JT: Speaking of covers. Did you design it yourself? And I have to ask, is there a significance to the rusty looking bars?

Mary: I chose the image from Shutterstock and then Julie Metz designed the book cover. I was intrigued by the image of rusty bars overlooking the empty freeway. It speaks to the trapped feeling my characters have at times. The empty freeway is also reminiscent of the empty freeways on the night of the OJ Simpson slow speed chase. Freeways in Southern California seldom look that way! We’d originally thought about using an image of the infamous Ford Bronco but decided against that idea. The novel isn’t about OJ Simpson. His trial is only the background noise.

JT: OK. Let’s talk about this book in particular. What was your inspiration for this book?

Mary:  I wanted to write a story about people like me who work at the post office, shop at Target and back in the 90’s thought the Cheesecake Factory was a special night out. I set the story where I live in Huntington Beach, California. The only other book I’ve found set in Huntington is “Tapping the Source” by Kem Nunn, which is a testosterone filled much grittier story.

JT: I am surprised there aren’t more books with Huntington Beach as the location. It’s a pretty widely known area, even for people like me in Florida. I guess that is good for you. You may do well in local bookstores. What shelf would they put your book on, say in Barnes & Nobels in Huntington?

Mary:   The nineties aren’t quite historical (depending on your age) and aren’t contemporary either. I’ve described The Lockhart Women as women’s fiction, but men enjoy the story too. The LA Times Book Club called The Lockhart Women one of their favorite Literary Escapes of 2021 so maybe literary fiction? 

JT: How do you market your book?

Mary: I used a publicist when the novel debuted. Now I’m self-promoting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, sharing every piece of good news. I also run Facebook ads, Amazon ads, sign up for bookstagram tours, participate in giveaway promotions, and offer 99 cent eBook sales.

JT: What do you like BEST about writing or being an author?

Mary: I love editing. I subscribe to the “shitty first draft” philosophy and tend to overwrite. I love shaping the story and bringing my character into sharper focus.

JT: Wow. Most authors hate editing. For me, the first edit is fine, but by the time I get to the 10th (or 20th ) I’m pretty done in. In reverse, what do you like LEAST?

Mary:  I’m having fun with promoting The Lockhart Women, but I’ve found it difficult to work on my second novel. Creating and promoting require different skill sets and it’s not always easy to switch back and forth.

JT: So true. We must wear many hats in this business, don’t we? If you were to give advice to a new author looking to get published, what would you say?

Mary: Focus on writing the book first. Find a writing critique group you can trust and learn to trust your own voice. Support your local writing community by shopping at independent bookstores, attending author events, readings, workshops, classes. Write book reviews. Send authors you admire thank you notes. Writers are incredibly generous people, very willing to help you when it’s your turn.

JT: I can’t agree with you more on that. Both my global writer community connections and my local groups keep me grounded. Our writing sister and brothers are the glue that holds us together.

Thank you so much for being a part of Writing Under Fire. Here’s to wishing you tons of success in your writing career.  Where can readers purchase your book?